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Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,837 posts
25 reviews
Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

I travelled on the Eurostar from Paris to London today. I note the wonderful Man in Seat 61 says to check in 30 minutes before. This would be ok for a EU national but, on my experience today, not long enough for the rest of us. I was booked on the 11.10 and arrived at check- in at 9.30. I was not through to the waiting area until after 10.15. I am not sure if a Tuesday morning in August is exceptional. There were people behind me booked on the 10.10 .The officials at the UK customs desk would not assist but people in the queue were more helpful. One girl (North American accent) was in tears behind me, told me she had only just bought her ticket (hate to think the price). Fortunately passengers allowed her and 2 other ladies to jump to the head of the queue. I saw her being asked lots of questions by the UK customs officer (he asked me, a 74 year old, a lot as well). The last I saw she was headed for the security machine at 10.05 and only had a back pack. The other 2 ladies had a less investigative officer and were probably just ahead of her. I hope she made it. I noted EU citizens sailing through in the other area.

Also I booked within 24 hours of the date opening and chose a forward facing window seat, no table. Like many others my boarding pass had seat changed. I had an aisle seat facing back with a table. However, while a young man had the window and either looked at his phone or slept all the way, fortunately we had no-one in the opposite seats so I swapped, faced forward and could look diagonally out his window. If I had had to travel trying to find leg room with a stranger opposite I would have been furious. I am returning on Sep 10 so will see what happens.

My advice is, if you are not an EU citizen arrive an hour before.

37 replies to this topic
Albufeira, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Level Contributor
58,096 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Sound advice as UK immigration controls can be very picky. If you fly to UK from France with a NZ passport you have to go through a separate queue on arrival. But as UK immigration controls for trains take place in France, the extra time is spent there.

I am surprised though that UK customs were asking questions, For the next few months anyway, there should be no routine customs inspections for travel between France and UK. Of course some people do get picked out at random.

And Eurostar may have changed the type of train on your service, therefore having different seating arrangements. They don't have to tell you this, any more than an airline would if they had a different aircraft.

Wengen, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
Level Contributor
9,055 posts
1 review
2. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Generally speaking I treat the “30 minutes in advance” rule as “be in the queue 30 min in advance”.

I’m not responsible for any delays in processing, and expect Eurostar to put me in the next train if it were to cause me to miss my train.

The requirement to check in is an outrage already as it is. They are not going to get more from me than the absolute minimum when it comes to compliance.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,837 posts
25 reviews
3. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Cubsur. I assume you are an EU citizen so no customs at least until next year. I am a Commonwealth citizen so, although born a British citizen (Australian and NZ citizenship did not begin until about 1948), I have to be granted permission to enter. My last 2 entries into the UK have been by ship from Denmark then Santander. On both occasions I have been the last through as I filled in the forms while all the other passengers sailed through. I felt like saying "But I have the same Queen" LOL. I always find entering the Continent a lot easier than the UK.

I was asked my purpose for visiting - the Proms, whether I would meet friends or relatives (twice) - no .Other places I would see in the UK beside London and how long I am staying - 5 weeks. When I said I was returning to France on Sep 10, he asked would I go straight back to NZ - no Australia first. When I flew into Paris on Friday I was asked nothing.

Wengen, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
Level Contributor
9,055 posts
1 review
4. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

There is actually no customs when entering the UK from another EU country. It is immigration you’re dealing with.

Warwickshire...
Level Contributor
1,646 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

You got there too early and got mixed up with people catching the 10.10 as you have reported

No customs to pass through

Edited: 08 August 2018, 00:54
Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,837 posts
25 reviews
6. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

I note the terminology but in NZ and Australia (and I have researched also USA) customs and immigration are the same. On my last return to NZ, The immigration officer gave me a rousing for not admitting my blood pressure tablets on my form (2 left and prescribed in NZ). She wrote all over my card but the customs officer took no notice and waived me through. You may think I got there too early Roger, but when I arrived in the waiting room, the 10.10 having departed, I was lucky to get one of the last seats to drink my much needed coffee. I will be at St Pancras an hour before my departure for Paris in September. I am just trying to warn non-Europeans to get there early.

Nijmegen, The...
Level Contributor
5,028 posts
17 reviews
7. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

If you have the luxury of taking the next train I would queue up 30 minutes before hand and not a second earlier. Eurostars and the whole organization need to realize that the comedy show they call security is ridiculous, unnecessary and has nothing to do ith safety nor security.

As soon as you have checked in it's Eurostars responsibility to get you from A to B. So make them sweat.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,837 posts
25 reviews
8. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

I am not like you. The thought I might have to pay the last minute price would have me sweating. People tell me I do not stand up for myself but I hate making a fuss especially in a foreign country, my blood pressure would go through the roof. My father's motto that he drummed into me "Never be late, never be on time, always be early"

The security was easy, much easier than airports especially considering you have all your luggage with you. It was immigration that caused the hold-up. Might not Eurostar say that was beyond their control? Again I reiterate, I am warning non-Europeans.

Wengen, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
Level Contributor
9,055 posts
1 review
9. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Well, I know that once I have joined to queue on time that Eurostar cannot make me pay for another ticket without exposing themselves to litigation. Because if they were to do that they are breaking the law.

The whole thing is a farce. And it is because people do not stand up that governments get away with chipping away bit by bit our freedoms...

Nijmegen, The...
Level Contributor
5,028 posts
17 reviews
10. Re: Allow time for the Eurostar at Gare du Nord

Brian: I fully realize the position you are in. I'm not saying you don't stand up for yourself. It's merely the system which is a complete and utter joke.

Immigration is part of the whole security theater. While immigration itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. The way it is organized it. And it costs an unnessecary amount of time.

And no, Eurostar cannot shift away liability from the security theatre and immigration. Once you've checked in it's their responsibility to get you where you need to be on the train you paid for.

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